Monique Conti stormed to her first AFLW best and fairest, winning the league’s highest honour with two rounds to spare.
The Maribyrnong College graduate, who grew up in Keilor and Maidstone, was originally drafted to the Western Bulldogs with pick four of the 2017 draft, before joining Richmond for its inaugural season in the competition in 2020.
The Tigers star was last year’s runner-up to Brisbane’s Ally Anderson.
Conti polled 20 of a possible 24 votes across the first eight rounds of the season.
She received three votes in each of the Tigers’ five wins against Brisbane, Greater Western Sydney, Carlton, Hawthorn, and Collingwood. She was also judged best afield in the round five loss to Fremantle.
Conti, who juggles football with her basketball commitments with Women’s National Basketball League team the Melbourne Boomers, put an exclamation mark on her win by earning a maximum three votes in round 10.
The midfielder polled in nine of the 10 games she played winning with 23 votes out of a possible 30.
The 23 year old adds to her already extensive resume which includes five All Australian selections, a premiership in which she was best on ground, Season 7’s AFL Players Association most valuable player award and five club best and fairests.
Conti played in all 10 matches this season, averaging 28.5 disposals, 7.3 clearances, 418 metres gained, 5.8 tackles, and 3.5 score involvements per game.
The dynamic midfielder, known for her blitzing and evasive speed, also led the league for clearances this season, was fourth in the AFLW for disposals and fifth for metres-gained.
When asked when she thought the award was hers, Conti said with a laugh “(the) last round.”
“I don’t know. I just had a pretty good game last round.
“We had an amazing win, I was so happy to finish on that.
“I think leading into that (final vote count), it was like ‘okay, this is actually real.'”
She finished seven votes ahead of Sydney’s Chloe Molloy, North Melbourne’s Ashleigh Riddell, Gold Coast’s Claudia Whitford and Geelong’s Amy McDonald.
Conti credited her teammates and the people around her for the win.
“We have been challenged a lot this year, but I have got great coaches and great teammates as well,” she said.
“Honestly, you cannot be where you are without your teammates, I think we’ve got a great coach in Ryan Furgerson and great assistants and I have got a great team around me.
“Some good people around me really helps.”
The dual sport athlete said being able to play both footy and basketball keeps her motivated and helps her forge a path for the next generation of female athletes.
“One thing that really keeps me going is knowing that myself and every AFLW player and every WNBL player, we are all role models for young female athletes, and even just young athletes coming through.
“What keeps me going is knowing that I can help create a path for young girls that are being told to choose between one sport or another.”
Conti has now polled 79 votes from her 61 games at AFLW level, highlighting her consistently brilliant level of performance since entering the competition.